The Pawling Library Nominated for a Major National Award
By Susan Stone
Sometimes it really is an amazing honor just to be nominated. At least, that is how the trustees and the staff of the Pawling Free Library feel about being nominated by United States Representative Antonio R. Delgado of New York’s 19th Congressional District, for the prestigious 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
This annual award is presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an agency of the federal government, to institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to community service. Since its inception in 1994, this award has remained the nation’s highest honor for establishments that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.
Only two libraries in New York State have been awarded this medal in the past 27 years. They are the public libraries of Brooklyn and Queens. These major facilities have provided services and programming to much larger populations with budgets that far exceed that of our community’s public library. However, Pawling’s library board president, Amy Emke, was quick to comment, “Our ‘little’ library has been able to provide ‘big’ services to local folks through extraordinary partnerships with our Pawling Recreation Department, local schools, and other organizations. We have been especially lucky, during these pandemic times, to have director Brian Avery and our fantastic library staff. They find creative ways every single day to provide outreach and services to every member of our community, always keeping health and safety in mind.”
Specific to Ms. Emke’s statement, and despite the library building’s required closure during much of 2020, library director Avery and his staff found ways to offer library materials for distribution while maintaining stringent safety protocols. Staff packed up requested books for patrons to pick up at a designated distribution window, created take-home programming packets for children, and offered online programs for teens and adults. In all, 620 programs and events were presented in 2020, Covid restrictions notwithstanding.
As the library reopened in 2021, many programs were created specifically to celebrate the library’s Centennial, the commemoration of which kicked off last May and will continue through May of 2022, bringing to the community informative, lively programs highlighting the history, art, literature, science, fashion and music of the 1920’s. Funding for programming during this Centennial year was made possible by a generous grant from the Oliver S. and Jennie R. Donaldson Charitable Trust.
Among the many regular offerings upon which the community depends are the early literacy programs attended by more than 2,700 children annually. This programming is designed and presented by children’s program coordinator Neena McBaer, and is available to infants through children of preschool age. Focused, age-appropriate programming is also available to elementary school children as well as pre-teen, teen and young adult patrons, with some of the most popular centering on technology, gaming and coding, as well as community service. ESOL and tutoring services are also featured.
Adult programming runs the gamut from lecture series and writing workshops to cooking demonstrations and regular film screenings. All are made possible by the library’s long-serving adult program coordinator, Donald Partelow. Library community outreach, with circulation manager Tom Clemmons, provides book readings and literary offerings to patrons at The Grand and at senior housing within the community.
The Pawling Free Library trustees, staff and volunteers are grateful to Representative Delgado for his powerful vote of confidence on the library’s behalf.
Picture caption: Congressman Delgado presents Director Brian Avery with a Centennial proclamation.
Picture by Pawling Library